Reading log for 2014 (continuing)

Work in progress, noting books roughly in the order in which they were read, with some annotated remarks. Some of the books had been started earlier, but for various reasons or another they were finished only recently.  So, when you see that I have read several volumes by Barth, plus a few church fathers’ tomes, don’t think I did that all in one month.

January

Jenson, Robert W.   Systematic Theology vol. 1.   University of Oxford Press.  Mostly fantastic.   Truly understands the challenges the modern world presents to traditional Protestantism and ably responds.

Williams, Rowan.  Arius: Heresy and Tradition.   Eerdmans.  Outstanding and stunningly brilliant piece of historical philosophy .  Somewhat difficult read.

Horton, Michael.  People and Place.  Westminster/John Knox Press.   A few howlers here and there, but overall a cogent and well-articulated ecclesiology.  Draws heavily on speech-act theory.

Goethe, J.  Faust Part 1. Penguin Books.  Fine example of Romanticism and “Sturm und Drang.”  Unwittingly shows the difficulty of constructing a redemption apart from Christian principles.

Sturluson, Snorri.  King Harold’s Saga. Penguin Books.  An excerpt from the Heimskringla.  Very entertaining.  Good norse prose.   The editors correct a lot of Snorri’s factual mistakes.

Edwards, Jonathan.  A Dissertation on the Nature of True Virtue.  An important piece, but not necessarily well-written.  Sees beauty as a proportional harmony to the Divine Being.

Shakespeare, William.  “Macbeth.”  Outstanding.

Jenson, Robert W.  America’s Theologian: Jonathan Edwards, a Recommendation.   Mostly brilliant.  In some ways a nice summary of Jenson’s own thought.  I suspect that  Jenson falls prey to the same charge against Perry Miller:  both seem to read their own interests into Edwards.  Be that as it may, a number of stunningly brilliant observations on politics, economics, and ontology.

Palamas, Gregory.  The Triads Paulist Press.   Very important read.  Marks a key and final moment in Byzantine theology.  Ultimately torpedoes his own project.

Luther, Martin.  Three Treatises.  Fortress Press.   *The* place to begin with Luther.   Wonderful reading.  While others call attention to the important topics raised (sola fide, 2kingdomz), I was intrigued by his Letter to the German Nobility.   He gives a genealogical critique of Papal accretions and posits the possibility (ultimately failed one) of a German Old Catholicism.

February

Lacugna, Catherine.  God for UsOutstanding analysis on the history of Trinitarianism.   Hippie and feminist in its conclusions.

Pannenberg, Wolfhart. Metaphysics and the Idea of God.  I am not entirely sure about Pannenberg’s conclusion (not really sure what it is) but he helpfully explains important concepts from Hegel, Kant, Descartes, and others.

Barth, Karl.  Church Dogmatics I/2.  Important in its own right.  Not my favorite volume.  Barth could take a lesson in brevity.

McCormack, Bruce.  ed.  Engaging the Doctrine of God.   Some fantastic essays.   Even where I disagreed, I learned a whole lot.

Sanders, E. P.  Paul, The Law, and the Jewish People.  Very thorough discussion; some important issues raised.  Faulty conclusions.

Anatolios, Khaled.  Athanasius: The Coherence of this Thought.   Probably the best monograph on Athanasius to date, or at least recently.  Argues that Ath.’s theology must be seen as a larger outlook of how he viewed God and the world:  an externality/internality model.  God is external to the world, yet took creation internally via the Incarnation.  That’s well and true, but I have some quibbles about some of his conclusions (I don’t think Athanasius, pace Anatolious, can be fully divorced from a chain of being participation model).

Wright, N. T.  Beyond the Bible.    Well-written and I like his 5-Act theory.   He doesn’t actually tell you how his model is useful for ethics or daily living, and that is where his project falls short.

Cornwell, Bernard.  Heretic.   Good conclusion to his Archer series.   Not as grisly as his earlier works.   Does a great job showing how flawed medieval anchorism really was, but he is fair:  some of the priests are truly wonderful individuals.

Horton, Michael.  Lord and Servant: A Covenant Christology (Westminster/John Knox).   Excellent.  Shows us communicative and covenantal paradigms are much superior to those of causal and ontological scale of being paradigms.

March

Bourke, Vernon.  The Essential Augustine.  A 220 page compilation of Augustine’s philosophy.  Bourke almost pulls it off, too!  Beautiful section on the Forms.

Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet.   I have to teach through this for the year.  It’s okay.  Not as good as I remembered it to be, though I appreciate Mercutio’s humor a bit more.

—————, Much Ado about Nothing.  Took a while for me to get into it.  Once I did the narrative flowed smoothly–much more so than Romeo and Juliet, which I increasingly find strained.    Among other things it is a covert Protestant witness to the good earthiness of married sex (something some traditions can’t really affirm).

Lewis, CS.  Out of the Silent Planet.  I try to reread this series every few years.

Baldacci, David.  The Hit.  One of his better ones.  I figured out who the bad guys were (in general terms anyway) early on. He did throw a few curves, though.

Homer, The Iliad.    Rage is surely the theme of this book.

Shakespeare, Hamlet.  A more horrible protagonist than I had last remembered.   Some of the most classic language and lines in all of the English language, which was nice.

—————, Henry V.  Kenneth Brannaugh’s performance aside, I read this in conjunction with Leithart’s analysis.

————–., Taming of the Shrew.   Most charming comedy I have ever read.

Virgil, The Aeneid.

Leithart, Peter.  Brightest Heaven of Invention.  Delightful analysis of Shakespeare.

April

Memoirs of a Writer by Stephen King.

Jordan, James.  Sociology of the Church.

Van Til, A Christian Theory of Knowledge.   Great section on scale of being.   Good analysis of Reformed anthropology.  Suffers from horrible editing.

—————–.  Survey of Christian Epistemology.  Great section on the Greeks.  Spirals out of control on Idealism

Jenkins, Jerry.  Writing for the Soul.  Outstanding reflections on how to write Christian fiction.

Rushdoony, R. J.  Flight from Humanity.  Shows the practical consequences of neo-Platonism.

May

North, Gary.  75 Bible Questions.   Meh.  Great section on soteriology.   It gets progressively worse from there.

Hodge, Charles.  Systematic Theology.  Volume 3: Soteriology.  Simply magnificent.

Kastler, Shane.  Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Redemption.   A few problems and highly speculative at times, but a fine narrative.   The irony is that Forrest was more racially progressive than literally everyone in his day, including the Unitarian Abolitionist agitators in the North.

Horton, Michael.  Covenant and Eschatology: The Divine Drama.  Replaces static ontological categories with those of eschatology and drama.  Literally an exciting read.

June

Frei, Hans.  The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative.  Fascinating survey of post-Enlightenment hermeneutics.  He is right on how important narrative is, but since Frei has no category of eschatology he can’t cross Lessing’s ditch.

Vanhoozer, Kevin.  First Theology: God, Scripture, and Hermeneutics.  Probably the best thing on hermeneutics I’ve read.  Great sections on the doctrine of God.

Vos, Geerhardus.   The Pauline Eschatology.  Wonderful insights marred by tortured prose.

Pannenberg, Wolfhart.  Systematic Theology. vol. 1.  Great sections on the Doctrine of God.  His take on the Hebrew vs. Hellenistic view of spirit was fantastic.  Fails to really “connect” however.

Three Views on Evangelicalism and Eastern Orthodoxy.  Good overview.

Meyendorff, John.  Christ in Eastern Christian Thought.  Brilliant survey of Byzantine theology. Shows all of the strengths and weaknesses of Byzantine Orthodoxy.

Letham, Robert.  Union with Christ.  Clear, succinct.  Good primer yet somewhat intermediate in content.  Probably wouldn’t be my first read on the topic.

July

Montgomery, John Warwick.  Principalities and Powers.  Brilliant survey of the occultic revolution from a mature Christian perspective.  The best Christian treatment on the topic.

Steinmetz, David.  Luther in Context. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.  2002.  Collection of essays placing Luther in his late medieval context.  Mostly excellent but quite a bit of repetition.

Christopher, Paul.  Templar Conspiracy.  Political fiction thriller.  Lots of fun.  The audio book Play-Away version is magnificent.

Jordan, James.  The Liturgy Trap.  Great comments on the conversion to High Church traditions.  Somewhat marred by the author’s anger towards the Confessional Reformed world.

Nietzsche, Friedrich.  Basic Writings of Nietzsche.   I’ve been reading it on and off for over seven years.   Great prose.  Somewhat rambling at times.

Early Greek Philosophy ed. Barnes.  Interesting collection. Difficult in that the presocratics weren’t systematic thinkers.  Notes that a few of them were homos.

Ricoeur, Paul.  Figuring the Sacred.   Collection of essays.  Explains how narrative works and how one can form an ontology from that.

Dorsey, David.  Literary Analysis of the Old Testament.  Outlines all the major units in chiastic form.  Easily the best thing ever written on the Old Testament.  Yes, it really is that good.

Walsh and Middleton.  Truth is Stranger than it Used to be:  Biblical Faith for Postmodern Times.  Brilliant analysis of postmodernism.  Terrible applications.

August

Austen, Jane.  Pride and Prejudice.  Somewhat difficult.   But charming.   How can even play with deconstruction in such a novel.   Austen’s heroine balks at “traditionalism” at times (which is ironic, since many conservative praise Austen as a traditionalist) and one can even wonder if Austen created the template for the modern romantic comedy.

Nietzsche, Fr.  Thus Spoke Zarathuthstra.  Gnostic magic, and boring at that.

Austen, Jane.  Northanger Abbey.  Charming and fun.  You can tell it was one of her earlier works.

Smith, James K. A.  Speech and theology: Language and the Logic of the Incarnation.  Useful exploration of the phenomenological tradition.  Good critiques at times.   Somewhat flat (if largely true) conclusion.

Van Til, Cornelius.  An Introduction to Systematic Theology.  Highly advanced and difficult.  Some quirks but much good here.

September

Sophocles, The Oedipus Cycle. Beautiful tragic drama.  Shows the despair of the pagan world.

Gunton, Colin.  The One, The Three, and the Many. Great explorations into the deficiencies of Hellenic philosophy.  Decent reconstruction but inadequate at points.

Lyotard, Jean-Francois.  The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge.  Excellent analysis of modernity’s power-structures and what makes them “tick.”

Letham, Robert.  The Westminster Assembly.  Wonderful account of Westminster’s historical and theological setting.

Hesiod, Theogony and Works and Days.  Beautiful and haunting, but shows that paganism’s ontology is violent.  Even the forces that generate life–such as sex–are also violent.   Contrast that with the Genesis epic:  God speaks and it is good.

Homer, The Odyssey.  Classic, no comment really needed.  I read the Rouse translation.

Lee, Francis Nigel.  The Origin and Destiny of Man.  Lots of speculation on pre-Diluvian history.  Great chapter on the essence of man.

Van Til, Cornelius.  Reformed Pastor and Modern Thought.   Incomplete and choppy, but some fine discussions.

——.   Common Grace and the Gospel.  Pace Gary North, I really liked it.

——.  Sovereignty of Grace: An Appraisal of G. C. Berkouwer’s view of Dordt.  Okay work.

Clark, Kelly James, Smith, James K. A., and Lints, Richard.  101 Key Philosophy Terms and their importance for theology.   The best handbook of its kind.

Berkouwer, G. C.  Man: The Image of God.  Magnificent.  We can’t speak of man’s essence abstracted from  his relation to God.  GCB brings the best of the Dutch tradition to bear on this point.

October

Plantinga, Alvin.  Warranted Christian Belief

Hasker, William.  Metaphysics.

Planting and Wolterstorff.  Faith and Rationality.

Willard, Dallas.  Renovation of the Heart.

Colossians (in Greek).

November

Hall, Christopher A.  Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers.  Simply wonderful.  Best intro to the Church Fathers.

Advertisements

2 comments on “Reading log for 2014 (continuing)

  1. […] thread actually inspired me to make a book log, though I do use Good Reads. January's Readings. Jacob ARP, Louisiana On that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s